The city is not under immediate threat from the flames, but they could reach it over the weekend.
The fire was burning about 17 kilometers from the city when the order to evacuate Yellowknife and neighboring communities was issued Wednesday night.
According to the Northwest Territories government, 20,000 people must leave their homes as soon as possible.
Canadian Armed Forces personnel are assisting firefighters and have moved evacuees on military aircraft. People most at risk will be prioritized for air evacuation.
More than 200 wildfires have already burned a large area of the Northwest Territories. If it doesn’t rain, the fire may reach Yellowknife, the region’s capital, over the weekend.
15% of the population of the Northwest Territories has already been evacuated. Officials say most roads remain safe, but if smoke limits visibility, those exiting Yellowknife on the freeway will be escorted through the active fire zone.
There are more than 1,000 active wildfires across Canada.
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